Marvel's Spider-Man Studio: Sony Computer Entertainment, Insomniac Games Platform: Sony Playstation 4 Release Date: September 7, 2018
Description: When a new villain threatens New York City, Peter Parker and Spider-Man's worlds collide. To save the city and those he loves, he must rise up and be greater.
Starring one of the world's most iconic Super Heroes, Marvel's Spider-Man features the acrobatic abilities, improvisation and web-slinging that the wall-crawler is famous for, while also introducing elements never-before-seen in a Spider-Man game. From traversing with parkour and unique environmental interactions, to new combat and cinematic blockbuster set pieces, it's Spider-Man unlike any you've played before. Sony Interactive Entertainment, Insomniac Games, and Marvel have teamed up to create a brand-new and authentic Spider-Man adventure. This isn't the Spider-Man you've met before, or seen in a movie. This is an experienced Peter Parker who's more masterful at fighting big crime in New York City. At the same time, he's struggling to balance his chaotic personal life and career while the fate of millions of New Yorkers rest upon his shoulders.
An Original Story
An all-new Spider-Man universe featuring familiar characters in unfamiliar roles. Peter Parker deals with his complex dual life as a young adult with great powers, discovering how his many relationships evolve.
The worlds of Peter Parker and Spider-Man collide in an original action-packed story. In this new Spider-Man universe, iconic characters from Peter and Spider-Man's lives have been reimagined, placing familiar characters in unique roles.
After eight years behind the mask, Peter Parker is a crime-fighting master. Feel the full power of a more experienced Spider-Man with improvisational combat, dynamic acrobatics, fluid urban traversal, and environmental interactions. A rookie no longer, this is the most masterful Spider-Man you've ever played.
Marvel's New York is Your Playground
The Big Apple comes to life as Insomniac's most expansive and interactive world yet. Swing through vibrant neighborhoods and catch breathtaking views of iconic Marvel and Manhattan landmarks. Use the environment to defeat villains with epic takedowns in true blockbuster action.
Whether it's swinging toward a deadly confrontation through the glistening, bustling streets of New York, or off to meet up Aunt May or Mary-Jane, Sony Computer Entertainment and Insomniac Games' Marvel's Spider-Man is an astonishing and stunning-looking semi-open world action-adventure that plays true and honest with the beloved Marvel character. With its incredible visuals and control system, and story and characters who feel ripped straight out of some of Spidey's most classic exploits, this games shatters loftyy expectations and does right by the web-head's name.
The main story driving Marvel's Spider-Man revolves around the superhuman crime lord Mister Negative pushing his way into New York's organized crime racket following the apprehension of Wilson Fisk (which plays out in an incredible playable opening sequence, by the way). And as Spider-Man attempts to slam the brakes on Negative's ever-increasing violent threat, at the same time, and as Peter Parker, he also finds himself on the verge of a major scientific breakthrough with his mentor Dr. Otto Octavious. With complications building and building, Peter is going to need the help of Mary-Jane Watson, Aunt May Parker, Miles Morales, Captain Yuri Watanabe, and many more, to survive this adventure.
To get it out of the way, Marvel's Spider-Man is, without question, the best video game to date based on Marvel Comics' greatest character. While classics like Spider-Man 2, Ultimate Spider-Man, and even Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions will remain notable benchmarks for comic book-based video games, Marvel's Spider-Man outclasses them all in every way. Granted, that is partially due to the leaps and bounds made in video game technology since those titles were originally released, but even that, no other game comes as close to nailing the look and feeling of a Spider-Man adventure, of his world, than this incredible piece of work from Insomniac Games. Think of it as the Spider-Man equivalent to the Batman: Arkham series, basically.
Everything that you'd expect in a fully-fleshed out Spider-Man game is here. First, the story is a total love letter to the beloved Stan Lee/Steve Ditko creation (though please note spoilers will be light to keep the legitimate surprises and twists and turns under wraps). It's got heart, drama, laughs, and the usual 'Parker luck,' all accompanied by incredible action, terrific voice casting and characters, and a wealth of tasks and missions to accomplish while jaunting through New York. Make no mistake, this is a full-fledged AAA single-player game here, and all of it looks incredibly polished and gorgeous. No other Spider-Man game has looked as good as this, ever.
Insomniac Games' lead writer Jon Paquette, along with Ben Arfman and Kelsey Beachum, craft a compelling story that dives deep into the lives of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, effortlessly balancing both sides of Spidey's double identity. With help from co-writer Christos Gage and additional story elements provided by Dan Slott, both Spider-Man writers from Marvel Comics, create an iteration of Spider-Man that not only feels like a wholly fleshed-out and unique interpretation of the character and his world, but also a faithful representation of the original source material, and arguably on par with some of Spidey's best four-color stories. Marvel's Spider-Man clearly doesn't skimp on the action, but it also doesn't forget that our hero is also a brilliant scientist. It's such a well-rounded portrayal, and arguably one of the best (if not the best) spins on the character outside of the comic page (with the exception of maybe The Spectacular Spider-Man, though the forthcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse looks just overflowing with potential).
As with the story, the voice cast and acting in Marvel's Spider-Man is also absolutely top-notch. Yuri Lowenthal's performance perfectly embodies the character of Peter Parker - everything from the sarcastic and light-hearted quips to Peter's caring nature to the dramatic (and occasionally devastating) moments that litter the game. There's just something about Lowenthal's performance that just clicks, and all you hear is just ... Peter Parker. Laura Bailey as Mary-Jane Watson is also pitch-perfect, especially for the game's slick reinvention of the character (here she's a freelance The Daily Bugle reporter), adding a sense of spunk, warmth and determination to the character that hasn't really been seen before. Lt. Yuri Watanabe, voiced by Tara Platt, plays a key role as Spidey's NYPD insider, and her no-nonsense, quippy relationship with the Web-Slinger is pretty dang charming (Spider-Cop!). Additionally, Nancy Linari and Nadji Jeter, who voice Aunt May and Miles Morales in the current Marvel's Spider-Man animated series (no relation), reprise their respective roles here, bringing both familiarity and a more layered performance, along with a slight more serious edge, when compared to their work with the cartoon counterparts. Also, William Salyers as Dr. Otto Octavius is a notable standout, handling the script's surprising take on the character with heart-breaking depth.
Stephen Oyoung, who voices Martin Li, convincingly portrays the complicated and dual nature of the F.E.A.S.T. owner, and even shares some surprisingly poignant moments with both Peter and Aunt May. Other notables include Darin De Paul as the absolutely hilarious J. Jonah Jameson, obviously taking cues from J.K. Simmons iconic spin in Sam Riami's Spider-Man as the famed journalist, and Travis Willingham gives Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin the heft a role like that requires - even if the character's appearance is relatively brief. The same compliments can honestly be said about the entire cast, especially since the Marvel's Spider-Man's script gives so much meaty material for nearly every player to bite into.
And yup, you better believe Stan Lee has a cameo, but it's too perfect to spoil here. It's amazing how quickly you grow attached to not just Spider-Man, but to the entire supporting cast, which is a testament to just how well Insomniac Games cast and crew nail the Web-Head's world.
Even with the hefty cast size and massive set pieces, Insomniac Games keeps the focus primarily on Peter and his key personal relationships, both with his friends and foes. As exciting as the game is to play when you have Spidey's red and blues on (especially the wicked looking "advanced suit," his main suit in the game), it's also just as engaging when the Wallcrawler's civilian identity takes the stage. Peter's relationship with his Aunt May remains as wholesome and loving as ever, and he and Mary-Jane are effortlessly charming together. Plus, his burgeoning relationship with Miles Morales, who makes a strong impression with a relatively small role, holds so much exciting potential for future sequels. Even with the unimaginable circumstances our heroes find themselves in, character relationships, dynamics and confrontations feel lived in and believable, and surprisingly relatable at times. Peter and Mary-Jane's story is particularly captivating and achingly human. And as the story progresses and complications arise and motivations get increasingly grey, you really start to feel the weight of Spidey's responsibilities and decisions more and more, be it in the lab, with friends and family, or swinging through the city to save the day.
Web-slinging and understanding the basic controls of what Spider-Man can do in Marvel's Spider-Man is quick to get a handle of, though there is a slight learning curve. Swinging, crawling, leaping, wall-running and performing Spidey's signature moves soon feel effortless. Insomniac Games especially nails it when it comes to Spidey's web-slinging, making it both legitimately fun and easy to traverse the map, plus adding little extra abilities - like web-zipping and charged jumps - keeps it interesting. It's easy to just spend hours flinging through the New York City skyline, performing tricks and playing around with what Spidey - and his assorted costumes - can do. Not only does it look amazing, especially watching Spidey execute his trademark acrobatic moves, but there truly seems to be almost no limits to where Spidey can swing to in the map. Insomniac Games' recreation of New York City is incredible and impressive, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. There's something so entertaining and satisfying about traveling through the city, swinging and zipping non-stop without ever touching the ground. It makes it nearly impossible to put the controller down.
To quickly note, the variety and attention to detail given to the near endless New York City exteriors and streets is also true of most in-door locations. Select missions will send Spider-Man, or other characters, to infiltrate or take down crooks inside buildings and/or different structures, and they're all incredibly detailed and laid out. "Grand Central Station," one of those interior location-based missions, is a stand-out. The same goes for character models, with the vast majority looking surprisingly detailed and varied, save for the odd exception (which are basically limited to NPCs). Spidey has never looked better swinging through his home turf.
Whether it's via stealth or face-to-face, Spider-Man has an assortment of abilities and gadgets at his disposal to keep both missions and combat fun, engaging and rarely stale. Whether you go in with fists flying, prep a web gadget, or sneakily take out thugs one by one - again, think the Batman: Arkham series - there's plenty to keep things interesting. That also holds true to the opponents our hero will face. Some foes will be easy to take out in a couple of hits, while others need a little strategy, and others will require patience. A lot of the bad guys can be taken down by dodging and spamming the attack buttons, but going in with a game plan and making full use of your abilities definitely offers a more satisfying experience. Stringing together combos and leaping from opponent to opponent feels especially gratifying.
Marvel's Spider-Man starts you off with the basics and, soon, you'll be able to web up foes, toss the around, throw things at them, plant web mines, use impact webbing (Scarlet Spider shout-out!) and so much more. While it takes a little bit to start, the further the game progresses, the more skills, gadgets and suits are unlocked, giving you real options to overcome an obstacle. Even in the most challenging of fights, there's always hope that, by changing up your style or using different gadgets and suits, you'll have a chance. The game really allows the player to tailor the combat to their choosing and the flexibility to improvise on the fly.
All of the skills you gain and learn will come in handy as you traverse through the 20-25-ish hour main campaign and the wealth of side missions, which easily add another 10-15 hours of gameplay. While there is a solid variety of side missions, certain types are more frequent than others, which can sap some of the enjoyment out of trying to clear them all out. It can feel repetitive, especially as the game gets closer to the finale. There's also an assortment of challenge missions for Spider-Man to ace, which are mostly enjoyable to work on.
Marvel's Spider-Man does have a couple other minor shortcomings, though as with the aforementioned slightly repetitive side missions, they're nothing game-breaking or even really problematic. Some boss battles rely a little too much on quick-time events and pattern recognition, which can break the combat flow. The game's remaining problems basically boil down to a handful off too-easily solvable puzzles, and the odd weak character model scattered here and there, along with the odd glitch (occasional camera issues and getting stuck in a wall, namely) but nothing that really impacts the overall quality of the game in any real meaningful fashion, or nothing we've never seen before that isn't eventually patched out.
Lastly, deserving of a quick shout-out is the game's score by John Paesano, which is absolutely magnificent. Spider-Man's theme specifically is superb, feeling suitably heroic and stirring, but with a slight hint of melancholy. For his overall work on the game, with the sheer scope and variety on display, the effort is staggering and relievably stellar. Paesano knows when to go big (and I mean big) during the game's massive set pieces, when to emphasize the dramatic turns or onimous threat around the corner, and when to just sit back and let events play out. It's a score on par with the efforts of composers Danny Elfman, Christopher Young and Michael Giacchino for Spidey's theatrical exploits, and easily holds up alongside those efforts.
Insomniac Games, even with the odd hiccup here and there, has created an incredible experience with Marvel's Spider-Man, and it's clear that care was put into nearly every last detail. The story, the graphics, the acting, the score - all of it is undeniably spectacular. It's a consistently thrilling experience, carrying all the weight, impact, dramatic heft and flashy fisticuffs you've come to expect from a Spider-Man adventure. It's also littered with surprises and a surprising amount of Spidey foes, including some that are guaranteed favorites of long-time fans. And, if you think you know how this game is going to end, well, think again. The game allows for ample time for character development, and the further you get to the game's climactic confrontation, well, those emotionally-charged moments land, and lard hard.
Marvel's Spider-Man is an amazing action game, led by satisfying and layered combat capabilities, a wealth of material to uncover and an engrossing story, which holds true whether you're a long-time Spider-Man fan or new to the webs. Outside the odd hiccup, it's an exciting start to what could potentially end up being one of the best superhero franchises ever in gaming (the upcoming Marvel's Spider-Man: The City That Never Sleeps DLC, with Black Cat, Hammerhead and Silber Sable, looks especially promising). An incredible achievement by the studio, Insomniac Games has carefully crafted one of the best Spider-Man experiences to date, offering refreshingly original yet faithful take on Marvel Comics' iconic hero that feels true and fully realized right down to the last spider. If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to live in Spidey's webs, here's your chance. Must Own!
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